DOES THE BIBLE CONDEMN ALCOHOL? AN OPEN RESPONSE TO “PASTOR PAUL RICHARD”
(Chinaka Justin Mbaeri)
Dear senior pastor Paul Richard, with respect to the post you published on your Timeline on the 27th of June at 10:30am, in which you openly insulted the Catholic Church, and tagged me, thereby, drawing my attention, I hereby write an open response.
It is unfortunate, grossly unfortunate that a pastor – a senior pastor like you would come up openly and act sardonically in writing, attacking other people’s Church. Is that what your Bible teaches you as a pastor of souls? Let me recall what you wrote on your timeline as contained in the image below; you said:
“Just take a look at them!!! Shame on you all, even the Pope? Taking alcoholic substance, while Jesus warned us not to drink it. Later, you would say that your Church was founded by Christ. Let me see how you would defend this. WHAT A DISGRACE!”
Dear senior pastor, those were your very words above which generated hundreds of likes, sarcastic reactions, and hundreds of comments, among which were mine. Immediately I commented on your post, you read and deleted it because I refuted your erroneous claims. I commented again and you decided to block me permanently. For this reason, I have decided to come up openly and publish my response against your post, for the sake of the hundreds of souls you may have misled by your false teaching.
Now, you claim that Jesus warned us not to drink alcohol… My dear “man of God”, you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Jesus never said anything of such, and even the entire Bible never condemns the consumption of alcohol, but condemns the effects of its excessive intake – drunkeness, etc. I see that you are seriously lacking in theological studies, with a quack knowledge of the Scripture; thus, I recommend a comprehensive study of theology for you, at least for 6years (Bachelor and Masters degree), I hope you accept my suggestion in humility. While you reflect upon taking a theological course, I invite you to journey with me across the pages of the Bible on this issue.
Here comes the question:
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ALCOHOLIC CONSUMPTION?
Many religious people believe that God has forbidden any use of alcoholic beverages — that any use of alcohol is wrong and sinful. They claim that the Bible supports this prohibition, just like you claim too. Wine/alcoholic drinks are frequently mentioned in the Bible. If something sinful or beneficial exists about these beverages, then the Bible will show it. What does the Bible really say about wine and alcohol?
WINE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
One of the first mentions of wine in Scripture is by Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God at Salem (Jerusalem) during the time of Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham. Melchizedek “brought forth bread and wine” for Abram and his companions (Genesis 14:18). Since the scriptures was born out of the Jewish context, it is better we consider the “sitz im leben” (life setting or cultural context) of the words of the scriptures in relation to the Jewish culture in order to aid better understanding. In this vein, language comes into play. From the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the Hebrew word for wine in Genesis 14:18 is “yayin”. This word is used over 130 times in the Hebrew Bible to mean “FERMENTED WINE”, not grape juice as you may think. This same beverage (yayin or alcoholic wine), when used excessively, causes drunkenness. Genesis 9:21 says that Noah drank too much yayin and became drunk. Lot also became drunk on this beverage (Genesis 19:30-36), and so did Nabal (1 Samuel 25:36).
Nevertheless, God told his people to enjoy yayin at the yearly festivals (Deuteronomy 14:26). In addition to using wine as a beverage, God also commanded the Levitical priests to include in the sacrifices a portion of wine (yayin) as a drink offering (Exodus 29:40). These scriptural passages make it clear that there can be a right and a wrong use of wine.
Naturally fermented wine is between 10 percent and 14 percent alcohol. Higher alcoholic wines are fortified wines. On special occasions, God even allowed use of what is translated as “strong drink.” This term comes from a different Hebrew word — “shekar” — which is used 22 times in the Old Testament, and refers to alcoholic drinks made from dates and other fruit. The Bible says that God gave wine to make men glad (Psalm 104:15). Why have some people turned this blessing of God into a curse? The answer is that many people do not follow God’s instructions. A blessing of wine was prophesied as a heritage to the chosen people in Genesis 27:28: “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness — an abundance of grain and new wine (tirosh).” The Hebrew word tirosh, meaning “new wine”. People sometimes conclude that this word means grape juice, or fresh-pressed juice of the vine. However, Hosea 4:11 states: “Old wine (yayin) and new wine (tirosh) take away their understanding.” Grape-juice do not possess this effect. Put differently, Tirosh is an intoxicating wine if used in excess.
Having journeyed through the Old Testament, let us take a look at the new Testament.
WINE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
While the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New Testament on the other hand was entirely written in Greek. Hence, we shall focus our mind on the Greek language in which the New testament was written. John the Baptist did not drink wine (oinos in the Greek) or any other form of alcohol because it was prophesied that he wouldn’t (Luke 1:15). However, Jesus Christ drank oinos (wine) (cf. Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). Jesus did not preach against the use of wine; instead he drank like most other Jews of his day. He drank wine in moderation. In ancient times it was normally diluted with water for drinking, and was one of the principal beverages at that time — as it is today.
According to the Greek Bible, Jesus’ first miracle was to change water into wine (oinos) NOT grape juice. Some people who preach total abstinence claim that this miracle was to turn water into grape juice. LOL… This is because, they tend to interpret the Scriptures based on their “myopic understanding”. Can you imagine a Jewish wedding banquet where everyone drank only grape juice?! (which is very difficult to imagine). The ancients did not have refrigeration or any other method of preventing grape juice from fermenting. On this occasion, Christ turned six jars of 20 or 30 gallons each into wine (oinos). This was no small miracle. This wine was of the finest quality — “You have saved the best wine till now” (John 2:10). At wedding feasts, the hosts normally started with the best wine, and they would bring out lesser-quality wines later.
Jesus gave a parable involving the fermenting process of oinos (alcoholic wine) in Matthew 9:17. At that time, instead of having metal or glass bottles to enclose wine, the skins of animals were used. The fermentation of the wine could burst an old skin, but it would not break a new stretchable skin. Another proof that oinos is fermented wine is the fact that the apostle Paul said, “Do not get drunk on wine (oinos)” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul did not mean to avoid getting drunk on grape juice! Paul instructed Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine (oinos) because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23). He said to use only a little wine, not a whole lot. The purpose of this wine was Timothy’s frequent stomach ailments; small amounts of wine can help some stomach problems.
Some of the Corinthian Christians were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:21). They were using fermented wine, following the example that Christ had set for them. Paul did not tell them that they were using the wrong kind of wine. He simply told them to eat and drink at home, and to participate in the Lord’s Supper in a respectful way. In Romans 14:21, Paul says that it is good not to drink wine or eat meat if it offends a weak brother. He is referring to fermented wine; grape juice wouldn’t offend anyone. The implication is that there’s nothing wrong with the wine in itself, except when it is abused.
Therefore, Scripture does not necessarily forbid a Christian from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol, like the beer Pope Benedict XVI (emeritus) drank on his 90th birthday. Alcohol, consumed in moderation, is neither harmful nor addictive. In fact, some doctors advocate drinking small amounts of red wine for its health benefits, especially for the heart. Consumption of alcohol in moderation is a matter of CHRISTIAN FREEDOM.
If you’re weak, then do not consider drinking it. Drunkenness and addiction are sinful; and this is exactly what the Bible condemns.
Above all, I am not proposing that alcohol must be consumed by all; if you maintain that intake of alcohol is bad for you, ok! That is simply your opinion; as pointed out, It is a matter of “Christian Freedom”, hence, do not look with disdain on someone who consumes alcohol in moderation or consider him/her a sinner. Besides, not only excessive intake of alcohol is a sin, the bible also condemns gluttony (such as excessive intake of food etc.) Hence, if you consume an excessive amount of soft drinks or other foods, it is also a sin!
So, my dear friends in Christ, senior pastor Paul Richard, my dear “born-again Christians”, and all those reading this article, do not be scandalized when a fellow Christian, or even the Pope consumes alcoholic drinks.
I had to post this. As he said, Shalom!